Porcelain tile is the material that has shifted our approach towards residential and commercial projects. By methods of pressurising, the tile comes in thicknesses as slim as 3mm to 5mm, yet as hard as granite and sometimes better than that. There are many reasons as to why Porcelain tile has become our favourite material to work with: The tiles are lightweight; the slimness renders edginess and sharpness that are required to craft elevations of modern era contemporary design – also where sleekness is key to the design elements; the lifespan of the material with respect to weather – there is no impact of solar radiation and rain. It acts as a perfect drywall clad with no air gaps created in between which thereby results in high insulative performance of the building. As the tiles come in larger sizes, there has been no need to restrict ourselves to traditional grooves and patterns. In many of our projects, we have used triangulations and odd geometrical patterns – allowing any kind of cuts, shapes, sizes and patterns possible. Commonly available sheet areas are large and suitable for customisation – sizes include 10 ft x 5ft and 10ft x 3ft. The wide variety of color palettes further enhances design scope and possibilities in residential and commercial projects. It improves the aesthetical quality of elevations.
The usage of Porcelain tiles in our projects is significantly in facades – we owe the beauty of the grey façade (cantilevered block) of our project Cantilever house in Ghaziabad to the choice of Porcelain tiles as the material, though it looks like exposed-concrete. The front elevation of the house features expansive projections that break the mass of the house. The master bedroom, located on the first floor is designed as a cantilevered block, jutting out over the landscaped garden.
In another huge residential project, House Under Shadows in Haryana, a thick brown band runs all around the double residence defining the storey levels. Porcelain tiles cannot be restricted to facades –we have used in the flooring and internal walls of bathrooms – a style away from the typical and conventional tiled or stone-bathrooms. The main doors of House Under Shadows, though seeming like a replica of Corten steel is originally of Porcelain tile. For ZED Lab, the material always opens more possibilities towards incorporating various looks-and-feels, earthy tones and textures that are rising in demand.
Availability: In India, it was initially limited and expensive, but it is abundantly available in the commercial market now. The material cost varies between Rs 200 to 350 per sq. ft and the execution cost is around Rs 150.
Many importers, vendors, suppliers and executors of Porcelain tile are important collaborators in our projects. Currently, Porcelain tiles are imported from China, Italy, Turkey and so on and not manufactured in India currently - so the carbon footprint may be on the higher side. But the tiling industry is doing well in India and we can expect manufacturing of Porcelain tiles anytime in the near future. There are brands in India who are manufacturers of porcelain tiles but have not been able to achieve slim thicknesses yet.